Fresh - March Edition


Hi everyone,

Farmers markets and shops are filling up with gorgeously crisp new season apples and pears, plums are plentiful and porcini are popping up in Hagley Park in Christchurch. Autumn makes no apology, it generally just sneaks in on the tail end of summer, although this year it seems to have arrived more abruptly as we held out for then gave up on summer. Never mind, there’ll be another summer sometime soonJ

This time of year is my favourite on the culinary calendar as the last of the stone fruit comes through and the onslaught of pip fruit begins; tomatoes, peppers, chillies and eggplants, basil and tarragon hang in, and usually have more flavour than earlier crops, and raspberries, blackberries and sweet corn, quintessential summer crops, can still be found. Feijoas and passionfruit aren’t far away, and avocados are still great buying.

Plum CrumbleI picked up a bag of dark-fleshed omega plums from the market the other day and made a scrumptious fruit crumble. The plums soften during cooking and when their crimson juice seeps through the crumble and bubbles around the edges, you know it is ready. These plums need sweetening with sugar as they have a sharp tang. Brown sugar introduces a little caramel flavour, and the woody note from a sprinkle of cinnamon works nicely, too. The important point with a crumble topping is to keep it fairly loose – it does need a good whack of butter – otherwise it will set solid like a rock cake and be unpalatable. Sugar helps keep the crumble crust tender, as well as flavouring it and helping it to brown. In other words, don’t stint on the butter and sugar. I love the toasty almost coffee-like flavour of hazelnuts in a crumble, but a sprinkle of chopped almonds, ground almonds or coconut is also good.

I’ve attached my latest round of classes which make the most of autumn produce, including fresh porcini. Yes! That’s right! The porcini grow in Hagley Park in Christchurch and will be flown up for the occasion (oh, those air miles!). Fresh porcini are not as concentrated as the dried version, falling somewhere between a Swiss brown mushroom and a shiitake, with the merest hint of truffle, in other words, divine.

I hope to see you along at a class soon – meanwhile, visit your local farmer’s market for fresh seasonal organic or spray-free produce and keep on cooking from scratch so you know what you are feeding your family and friends. Their health is in your hands.



Plum Crumble